Don’t Stop Going Out

I remember Juliette asking me: do you feel like you come out on these hikes with me: I can never tell if you actually like climbing peaks, or if you don’t like to stop.”

That’s loosely verbatim.

The hikes she took me on were the best she could muster. Driving in the car up I-90, chatting usually with a pack of pups in back, she’d point out the window and describe our relationship to the monolithic valley. Where we’d been, “Remember that?”, and in my vague way I’d say no, not really, but only to be honest. My memory of place is far weaker than that of experience or face.

Juliette introduced me to snowshoes, and from a guy with a repaired ACL, in that way, re-introduced me to freedom.

We hiked in her and Clara, her wife’s shoes and snow pants. Up through the forest until dirt went to slush to ice, until the footsteps disappeared. Always behind Kook the Blonde, he always leading unless the snow grew too deep. Juliette told me where we’d go, I warmed my hands and tried to keep pace. This is how friendships deepen.

On the days pictured, we went to two sets of lakes. The first set, Juliette leaped across the frozen, hidden surface. The second set, the snow was so heavy, lake so indeferentiatable from hollow, we stayed safe, ate snacks and turned back.

The way back, as it turned out, was how I found freedom again.

See: A?CL tears are no fun, least of all for me because of the weakness and the sudden and unerasable knowledge that it could happen again. The pathway is clear, and it isn’t one I wish to walk. So: barriers. So: courting other muscles to do similar work. So, compensation of a hundred tiny ways that boil down to a lack of trust, and beyond that, a lack of safety.

However snow is the world’s delicious, edible cushion.

I ran down slopes and took ten-foot leaps, tumbled, lost my water bottle; caught the edge of my shoes again and again as I leaped and spilled down slopes into tree hollows so deep in the snow I had to climb my way out the other side.

I have not chuckled with joy in a private environment like that in years.

Entirely careless in the best way.

Thank you, J. Always. You are the best guide.

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